Officials break ground on first of 4 new SunRail stations

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — SunRail officials expect to open four new stations and 18 more miles of track in the next two years in the hopes of boosting ridership,

Ground was broken Monday in Osceola County on the first of the four stations.

“I have to take three buses: 426, 26 and 18. It takes me three hours to get to work,” said bus rider Ernie Robles.

The first station will be just off Osceola Parkway and will be part of a new mixed-use development.

The other stations will be at Meadow Woods in Orange County, in downtown Kissimmee and in Poinciana.

With the new stations and additional miles of track, SunRail officials hope that more people will choose the train over other methods of transportation.

"Hurry up. I'm sick and tired of riding these buses," said Robles.

Numbers have been down since the SunRail service started in 2014, but officials said ridership is still strong.

“I (looked) at it for year one. We were a ‘B,’ and a ‘B’ is not bad for a brand-new system where people aren’t used to taking a train to and from work,” Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Noranne Downs said. “A ‘B’ is still a ‘B.'"

Sunrail officials said ridership numbers down from last year. So, they're hoping four new station with 2,000 additional boardings will help.

Riders said they would use the service more if it ran at night and on the weekend. But funding will that be a problem, officials said.

Also, the next phase which connects the rail line to Orlando International Airport is still years away.

“This southern leg will dramatically improve the ridership and help us get into the airport, which gives us the 7 -day-a-week service,” said Rep. John Mica.

SunRail officials said they don't know if the leg to the airport will be from Meadow Woods or from the Sand Lake station, but the hope is to get that service running by 2021.